Opelousas father and son celebrate first 4th after becoming citizens

Posted at 10:32 PM, Jul 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-04 23:32:36-04

This Fourth of July, a family in Opelousas is celebrating a major milestone.

That family immigrated from Mexico nearly 20 years ago.

"People want a better life for their families which is why we immigrated to the United States because it’s better than our countries," said Artemio Enriquez in his native Spanish tongue.

And that hope for a better life, is what brought him to the US.

"Because in our countries there aren’t a lot of jobs. And at first it was very difficult for me. I came here at first by myself," said Enriquez.

Enriquez got his green card during the Reagan Administration.

For 15 years, he lived in the US alone, away from his family, wishing that he could bring them here to be with him.

"It’s something you can’t explain but I wished I could reunite and spend all the time with my family but at those times you just couldn’t," said Enriquez.

In 1999, that wish came true.

Enriquez got his wife and three sons green cards.

The youngest, José, was just a baby.

"I came here at a very young age when I was one, so I was more accustomed to English. I actually learned English first and Spanish later because I would just go to school from a very young age because my parents would be working all day," said José.

And on this Independence Day, the father’s and son’s love for their adopted country is even greater.

"This is the first year we’re celebrating as citizens. I’m extremely happy, content, just happy," said Artemio.

They were recently naturalized in January, on the same day.

"I kind of feel it just a little bit like yeah I’m finally an American citizen, I can officially celebrate this holiday but I feel like the US is just like a big gumbo, just cultures from everywhere that everybody celebrates," said José.

Artemio works as a maintenance man around Opelousas. José is now a student at LSUE, working to become a dental hygienist.

Both father and son are fulfilling their American dream.

"It makes me value everything else so much more. Because I know they had a struggle growing up and just coming here, taking advantage of school, work, having friends, having the liberty to do everything and having the opportunity to do all of that is just really great," said José.

"We’re proud of this country that has given us everything. We’re happy here and we want to continue that because we have everything here and in our home country it’s not like that," said Artemio.